Philippine Airlines Tells 25 Pilots to Return to Work

By Clarissa Batino and Joel Guinto

(Adds airline says pilots ‘poached’ in third paragraph.)

Aug. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Philippine Airlines Inc. told 25 pilots who quit without notice to return to work within seven days after Asia’s oldest carrier was forced to cancel flights, rebook passengers and reshuffle its fleet.

The carrier, controlled by billionaire Lucio Tan, canceled 18 weekend flights after 13 captains and 12 first officers crewing Airbus SAS A-319 and A-320 aircraft resigned without giving the company enough time to train replacements, it said in a statement today in Manila.

Pilots are being “poached” by overseas companies, including Middle Eastern airlines that offer salaries three times more than Philippine Air pays, the Manila-based carrier said. Philippine regulations require airline pilots and mechanics to give six months notice before quitting, the airline said. Philippine Airlines has almost 500 pilots.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has called a meeting tomorrow of the nation’s transport, labor and justice departments and executives of the carrier to help resolve the problem.

“There has been disruption to our tourism efforts,” Aquino said in a briefing today in Manila, adding that pilots may face charges, without elaborating.

No passengers have been stranded due to cancellations, said Consuelo Bungag, a spokeswoman for the Manila International Airport Authority. Philippine Airlines notified passengers ahead of time, rebooked them on alternative flights and has shifted to larger planes to accommodate more people, she said.

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